The Opportunity Cost of Presidential Relaxation

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 23, 2011    •    502 Views

Talking about presidential relaxation, financial historian John Steele Gordon reminds us that not so long ago, a President could have been unreachable. When the financial panic of 1907 struck, because Theodore Roosevelt was off hunting bears in the Louisiana wilderness, he heard nothing until he returned.

Relaxation for President Franklin Roosevelt took him to his stamp collection and poker. On the rare occasion when he lost a game, FDR gave his opponent a check that he knew would never be cashed because of its souvenir value.

The Economic Lesson

As economists, we can look at presidential relaxation through the lens of opportunity cost. When the President decides to relax, the opportunity cost is working 24/7. Choosing one means forgoing the benefits of the other.

Believing the benefits of relaxation make a better decision-maker, John Steele Gordon suggests that the press not criticize a president who plays golf or basketball or goes to Hawaii or Texas or Martha’s Vineyard.


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